Badger cull row rumbles on following extension

A reported extension to the badger cull has reawoken an ongoing row regarding the process and its impact on tackling TB in cattle.

Although not confirmed by Defra, shooting of badgers is expected to begin in early September in South Devon, North Devon, North Cornwall, West Dorset, and South Herefordshire.

Dorset, Gloucestershire and Somerset are already practising culling

A Defra spokeswoman said it was “currently considering applications for further badger control licences as part of the usual licensing process”.

“England has the highest incidence of TB in Europe and that is why we are taking strong action to deliver our 25-year strategy to eradicate the disease and protect the future of our dairy and beef industries.

“Badger control in areas where TB is rife is one part of our long-term plan, which also includes strengthening cattle testing and movement controls and improving biosecurity on farm and when trading.”

The reported cull extension was slammed by the chair of the Badger Trust Peter Martin. “The badger is being used as a scapegoat for failures in the modern intensive livestock industry that have led to a significant increase in bovine TB in cattle herds,” he said. “Recent changes to the cull licensing regime have made it clear this policy is now just a ‘numbers game’ based on indiscriminate and untargeted killing of this protected wildlife species. They have abandoned any pretence of science or control.”

Sean Wensley, president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), said: “BVA recognises the need to control the wildlife reservoir of disease as part of a comprehensive strategy to eradicate bovine TB. Therefore, control measures in cattle must be accompanied by simultaneous and coordinated control measures in badgers and susceptible farmed species.

“For these reasons, BVA supports the wider roll-out of culling to carefully selected areas where badgers are regarded as a significant contributor to the high incidence of bovine TB in cattle, through the use of cage trapping and shooting only; we do not support the continued use of controlled shooting as part of the badger control policy.”

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